After Operation Cast Lead, peace activists prepared a list of 200 IDF officers who played major roles in the sowing the killing fields of Gaza with blood. I’m hoping someone is right now preparing a similar list for Operation Protective Edge. The level of mass mayhem in it far exceeds that of the prior campaign. More dead, more injured, more orphans, more devastation.
Remember this name in particular: Ofer Winter. He’s the poster boy of IDF war criminals. He was also high on the list of those accused of similar acts during Cast Lead. It was he who wrote the genocidal battle plan announced to his troops in the accompanying image:
History has chosen for us to be the bayonet point of battle against the Gazan terrorist enemy which curses, defames and abuses the God of Israel’s military campaigns…
God, the Lord of Israel, make our path successful, as we are about to fight for Your People, Israel, against an enemy who defames your name. In the name of the IDF fighters…make the phrase “For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” come true, and we shall answer: Amen.
Lest you think I overstated the term “genocidal” above, anyone who knows their Bible will recognize this language. It is the language used to describe those tribes which the Israelites wiped out in their campaign to capture the land of Israel and populate it with their offspring. Tribes like the Amalekites, Moabites, Jebusites and others were all exterminated in battles in which the ancient Jews followed what they perceived as God’s will in taking over the land.
Winter’s Givati brigade played a key role in the slaughter in Rafah (English edition) in the last week of the war in which 160 Palestinians were killed by vengeful IDF forces seeking vengeance after a Hamas attack that killed an IDF major, sergeant and captured Lt. Hadar Goldin.
These troops were member of Givati. So when the deputy commander named Eitan came on the scene of that attack he begged Col. Winter to allow him to pursue the Palestinian fighters who’d taken Goldin into the tunnel in which they’d fled.
Winter permitted him to do so only after exploding a grenade in the tunnel, which would’ve killed Goldin and his captors if they were still there.
Then Winter and the rest of the IDF proceeded to rampage through Gaza both from air and land. They annihilated any vehicle approaching the hospital in Rafah in case Goldin was being brought for treatment. The attack was relentless and unlike any other previous one in this horrific war. Heavy artillery, air bombardment, striking anything that moved (as Zvi Bar’el wrote in the column I translated yesterday).
Here is how Haaretz characterized Winter’s “on the ground” interpretation of Hannibal:
The Givati command headquarters…used the Hannibal procedure to find Goldin. They did so without the immediate authorization of the Gaza Division and Southern Command.
This was the most aggressive action of its type ever carried out by the IDF, military sources said. In addition to the use of special forces, an armored column moved quickly about one kilometer into Rafah’s built-up area…Israeli air support was also called in.
This procedure takes a risk with the life of a captured soldier to stop the abduction. But officers in the General Staff said this week the procedure does not permit the killing of a captured soldier to thwart the abduction. Still, some soldiers and junior officers might believe the killing of the abductee is preferable to an abduction.
Let’s again be clear in ways that few other Israeli or foreign journalists are willing to be. This was not an attempt to save Goldin or free him. It was an attempt to kill him. It was also an attempt to kill his captors and show Hamas that this will be the fate of anyone who attempts to capture an Israeli soldier. But this is a lesson that Hamas refuses to learn, because it is motivated by the same stubborn, zealous nationalism that impels the IDF. Hamas is willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of its nation including the lives of its fighters. And taking an IDF soldier hostage advances the struggle for Palestine. So it is a chance not only worth taking as far as they are concerned, but even a desired and noble sacrifice if one were to lose one’s life in taking it.
There is also another aspect of the Rafah slaughter that must be considered when weighing charges of war crimes. Besides killing Goldin under the execrable Hannibal Directive, this day that Haaretz reporters are now calling Black Friday was one of mass vengeance against not just those who killed the two soldiers, but also against everyone, including civilians, in the area from which the attackers came. This was not just collective punishment, an act clearly prohibited under the laws of war, it was collective murder.
So Col. Winter, you’ve earned your number 1 spot in the new Dirty 200 list of IDF war criminals.
On a related matter, the 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire has now ended. In talks in Cairo, Egypt and Israel offered no flexibility regarding Israeli demands to lift the illegal siege of Gaza. Therefore, as expected, the ceasefire appears to have failed. Rockets have begun to fly from Gaza into Israel. The latter has announced Hamas has rejected the ceasefire attempting to pin the blame on it for a resumption of hostilities, while omitting Israel’s intransigence as the leading factor in the failure of the talks.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.